Are your teams still traveling without a GPS?

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How can you ever hit the target if you don’t know exactly where you are now?

 

“Reading a map? Well, I just use my GPS.” Google Maps and a GPS are a boon for anyone who has difficulty getting their bearings. Wouldn’t you agree? How often do you pay attention when you are in the car with someone? Do you remember how you drove? And many also do not understand that at school you get some topography. “That’s not necessary, because I have my mobile phone”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some knowledge from the top of your mind is necessary.

Was it so different before the time of the GPS and a compass and map on your mobile phone? Did people know how to orient themselves better then? As far as I’m concerned, no. But the big difference is that they were aware of that. Now there is a blind faith in technology. And people experience much less the feeling that they have lost their way. Board and managers proudly tell us about their vision and mission. And there’s always the dot. The dot on the horizon. That’s where they’re going. The entire organization is on the move towards the dot. Sometimes there is even a roadmap where the road is worked out towards the dot. Well great, all set. No, you’re not done yet. On the contrary! It’s great to know where you want to go. You may have already figured that out in positioning sessions. Thought about the common ground, talent expansion and opportunities. Everything is clear and known. The goal is clear. But what very often lacks is knowing where one is now. This applies to both the starting point and the positions during the journey towards the dot.

If you go on holiday yourself, you know, literally, where you are leaving from. You often also know a thing or two about the destination. And some are also so experienced that they can envision the journey. Why is that important? Because the journey also comes with discomfort. Are you going to fly? Then you must check in on time and wait a lot. For many train journeys you also have to take plenty of time, but you get a lot of comfort in return. And traveling by car? Well, for a little rest and a pee break you have to be able to stop in the right places. Space isn’t everything either. So that is certainly not the same as at home or at your destination.

If you look at this in a business context, there is no question of being in “A” one moment and in “B” the next. There is also a journey in between with a certain discomfort. Are your employees aware of that discomfort? Do they also know where they are in the journey? So that they can anticipate the inconvenience? Does that roadmap also state where they are at that moment and what else can be expected? People have trouble orienting themselves. To know exactly where they are. Where is that business GPS or that business Google Maps?

Change journey

A travel scenario is the solution. In projects with clients, we take people along in a “change journey” and make the travel scenario. The change journey is the tool we use to visualize the pressure on the teams. This allows you to anticipate a possible overload and also space that arises within teams during the change process.

In this way, people see in an additional roadmap what awaits them. When something is possible and when not. (Just think of stretching your legs or a pee break during the car ride.) The whole trip is included in it. And, not unimportantly, it is also tracked and provided with updates. Because the project can also get into heavier traffic or get a flat tyre.

In change journey we give them feedback on, for example:

  • Track. Where are you now? How long is it until… Et cetera. Just like with a GPS.
  • Expectations. What else will you encounter? What can you expect when?
  • Continue. What’s the best way to keep going? How do you also keep customers and other relations happy?
  • Temporarily do not do it. Some things are better not to do. Or much less. Think of a renovation, receiving customers at that moment is not always a good idea.
  • Resources. Which things can you count on and when? Do you have those specialists on time? If not when? What about time, location, materials, or raw materials?

The change journey works like a project GPS; we monitor the entire process where the project, the change, is. What is already behind us and what is still to come. Is that managing expectations? Yes. Pamper? Maybe. But think for a moment how you would feel if you had to go to a destination, while you know nothing about the trip itself. And then often continue to function “normally” and do not whine about discomfort. Because at the end point everything is solved. Still difficult with a full bladder or an empty stomach while you don’t know how long until the next stop.

“Ah, we don’t need that. Our steering committee has a nice dashboard and knows exactly how things work.” Okay, that may be, but they are often not “in” the change. They look from the shore and adjust accordingly. A change journey is there for the people in the field. It gives them guidance on where they stand and what is coming their way. This allows the teams to anticipate the different situations. In an ideal world, everything is readily available, but not in a project. This means that people must look for solutions, but also for workarounds if you are in danger of getting stuck. That demands a lot from all team members. And yes, they are people, so one switches more easily than the other. The dynamics within the team and the influences from outside the team plus the progress of the change, are demanding. Insights into the negative influences also help people to make themselves resilient. Especially when they are properly guided.

It sounds so simple “during the renovation, the store remains open”. But the reality is that the store needs to be cleaned extra often. Nothing is in the same place anymore. Customers and staff get lost in a usually familiar space. In short, all certainties and the feeling of security are hard to find. And in addition, people often have no insight into how much longer and what is still to come. That is why we try to experience how the situation is now, during and after a change. First of all, you describe it in such a way that people feel what it is like when the change is over. Entice them to go along. But in the change journey you seduce them to also take the inconveniences for granted. Why? So that they realize that these are also there and especially that it is only temporary. And that together as a team you can prepare and arm yourself against this. You get the people from your organization on board, by really selling the goal in the first place. But also, by being very honest and telling them that the trip journey not always be comfortable.

In short, use the change journey as a visualization to better inform the people of your team and manage their expectations. In this way you give them tools to deal with the change and to make the journey from A to B as smooth as possible.

Do you want to know more about how to take people along in a change, how you can visualize the end goal but certainly also the journey? And how you can keep the team dynamics optimal to cope with the inevitable bumps and setbacks together. Feel free to call me or Mirjam. We are happy to help you.

Have a good trip!

Edwin

 


More about group dynamics and change in

  • the blocks (chapters) “to communicate“, “to plan” and “to bugetize” in our book Cement (in Dutch)
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Edwin not only shares his vision in columns, but also in presentations and in practice with clients. He is a Sweden fan and sometimes a little too enthusiastic about that. With many examples, metaphors and his enthusiasm he knows how to stimulate, motivate and connect people. For example, together with Mirjam, he guides people during changes. Their mission? To let you experience that change is fun. After all, change is nothing more than choosing to grow. And growing is fun. In fact, the world desperately needs it.

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